Ricketts Gives Keynote Address at National Ethanol Conference


Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts gives the keynote address Aug. 15, 2019, at the 32nd annual ACE conference in Omaha. (Courtesy Nebraska Governor’s Office)

The American Coalition for Ethanol brought its 32nd annual to Omaha and was welcomed last Thursday with a keynote from Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and updates from ACE leadership.

Ricketts used his remarks to discuss the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recent decision to exempt 31 small refineries from meeting their renewable volume obligations under the 2018 Renewable Fuel Standards.

“As the second largest ethanol producing state in the nation, President Trump’s approval of year-round E15 is a big win for Nebraska,” Ricketts said.  “There is, however, still more work to do. While the EPA granted fewer small refinery waivers to the RFS this year, the 1.4 billion gallons waived undermines the purpose of the RFS. To deliver on President Trump’s support for ethanol, the EPA should be more transparent about the waiver process and reallocate any waived gallons. They owe it to our farmers.”

Each year, several small refineries petition the EPA for temporary exemptions to their RVOs, according to a news release from the Governor’s Office. The EPA exempted fewer than 10 small refineries annually under the RFS for 2013 to 2015.

However, in recent years the EPA has been much more willing to grant exemptions. Under the 2018 RFS, 40 small refineries sought exemptions and 31 received them.

ACE Board President Duane Kristensen said the ethanol industry continues to face headwinds.

“With uncertainty surrounding the RFS and trade negotiations, we must engage in meaningful dialogue to find ways to increase demand for ethanol in our fuel supply domestically with E15 and higher ethanol blends, as well as in markets around the globe that are beginning to recognize ethanol’s high octane and environmental benefits in renewable fuels policies,” Kristensen said.

ACE CEO Brian Jennings said the EPA follows a “refiner-win-at-all-costs approach” to the small refinery exemptions.

“It constrains our ability to expand the use of ethanol here at home and around the world,” Jennings said. “We’ve come to the conclusion we cannot merely play defense on the RFS and hope trade wars subside. We need to turn the page, to go on offense.

“We need a new vision for how to increase demand for ethanol and break free from the status-quo.”

– Nebraska Governor’s Office & American Coalition for Ethanol

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